Brotherless Night: A Novel
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • A courageous young Sri Lankan woman tries to protect her dream of becoming a doctor in this “heartbreaking exploration of a family fractured by civil war” (Brit Bennett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half).
“This book, a careful, vivid exploration of what’s lost within a community when life and thought collapse toward binary conflict, rang softly for me as a novel for our own country in this odd time.”—Nathan Heller, The New Yorker
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • FINALIST FOR THE MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE ASIAN PRIZE FOR FICTION
Jaffna, 1981. Sixteen-year-old Sashi wants to become a doctor. But over the next decade, a vicious civil war tears through her home, and her dream spins off course as she sees her four beloved brothers and their friend K swept up in the mounting violence. Desperate to act, Sashi accepts K’s invitation to work as a medic at a field hospital for the militant Tamil Tigers, who, following years of state discrimination and violence, are fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority. But after the Tigers murder one of her teachers and Indian peacekeepers arrive only to commit further atrocities, Sashi begins to question where she stands. When one of her medical school professors, a Tamil feminist and dissident, invites her to join a secret project documenting human rights violations, she embarks on a dangerous path that will change her forever.
Set during the early years of Sri Lanka’s three-decade civil war, Brotherless Night is a heartrending portrait of one woman’s moral journey and a testament to both the enduring impact of war and the bonds of home.
Praise for Brotherless Night: A Novel
“Brotherless Night succeeds in telling all its stories—the historical and the personal, the factual and the ethical—as one, and that narrative has echoes. . . . This book, a careful, vivid exploration of what’s lost within a community when life and thought collapse toward binary conflict, rang softly for me as a novel for our own country in this odd time.”—The New Yorker
“Riveting, heartbreaking and extraordinary . . . Brotherless Night is a masterpiece.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Ganeshananthan is a writer of remarkable restraint.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A blazingly brilliant novel . . . With immense compassion and deep moral complexity, V. V. Ganeshananthan brings us an achingly moving portrait of a world full of turmoil, but one in which human connections and shared stories can teach us how—and as importantly, why—to survive.”—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere
“The best historical fiction novels don’t just tell a great story—they reveal a side of history that their readers may not be familiar with. V. V. Ganeshananthan’s Brotherless Night does just that. . . . [It] is a powerful work of fiction; one that reminds the reader what it means to live through war, and stand as a witness to history.”—Town & Country
“A heartbreaking exploration of a family fractured by civil war, this beautiful, nuanced novel follows a young doctor caught within conflicting ideologies as she tries to save lives. I couldn’t put this book down.”—Brit Bennett, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half
“Brotherless Night is my favorite kind of novel, one so rich and full of movement that it’s only later I realize how much I have learned. V. V. Ganeshananthan drew me in from the very first line, and the intricacies of her characters’ lives made it easy to stay.”—Sara Nović, New York Times bestselling author of True Biz
“A beautiful, brilliant book—it gives an accounting of the unimaginable losses suffered by a family and by a country, but it is as tender and fierce as it is mournful. It is unafraid to look directly at the worst of the violence and erasure we have perpetrated or allowed to happen, but is insistent that we can still choose to be better.”—Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections
“Searing and intimate.”—Publishers Weekly
“Through this moving story, Ganeshananthan traces the human aspects of war—the physical losses and tragedies as well as the conflicts of values that are often the true battlefields. . . . [She] forces the reader to discard a binary description of the world in favor of a more complex, human one.”—BookPage (starred review)